NOTIFY – Airneán (Liosberg Records)

AirneánNotify are a six-piece Irish band and Airneán is their first album in eight years and only their third in total which explains why their name didn’t strike a chord. Formed by concertina player and composer Pádraig Rynne, the band now comprises fiddler Tara Breen who is also a member of Stockton’s Wing, Davie Ryan (drums and percussion), bassist Adam Taylor, Rory McCarthy (piano and Fender Rhodes) and Hugh Dillon (guitars) alongside Pádraig. Airneán is a Gaelic word meaning night-visiting (or possibly staying up late for the craic).

The band’s music is rooted in Irish tradition but has grown to encompass other influences which certainly hold the attention. Much of their repertoire is original but their take on traditional songs keeps them anchored. The opening track, ‘Other Side Of The Glass’ begins with doomy bass notes with drums joining in and you wonder where it’s going. Then it bursts out into a very traditional-sounding tune, written by Pádraig, which always sounds as though it’s trying to burst out of its restraints as lots of other things happen around it.

It’s a long track but slightly longer is ‘The Strangest Thing’ which begins with piano and fiddle before the concertina takes over – a dreamy, slightly rambling piece that betrays Notify’s jazz influences. ‘Tá mé i mo shuí/Murray’s Potion’ is quite different. The first part is traditional, sung by Niall McCabe over bodhran initially before the rest of the band join in. The second part is an instrumental composed by Pádraig and Tara which picks up the pace after the rather beautiful song until Niall shoulders his way in to get the last word.

‘Arty’s Words’ is another of Pádraig’s tunes featuring Tyler Duncan on uilleann pipes and Alex Borwick on Fender Rhodes. Next comes ‘A Chomaraigh Aoibhinn Ó’, an absolutely gorgeous traditional song performed by Séamus and Caoimhe Uí Fhlatharta, vying for the album’s top track award. Totally enthralling and seemingly flowing into ‘Idir’. ‘La Grene’ takes a different direction, being composed by Hugh and having his guitar out front – a lovely dancing tune.

The third traditional song is ‘An raibh tú ar an gCarraig’ also featuring vocals by Séamus and Caoimhe. It presents as a love song but dates from a time when Mass was illegal and is therefore a sort of code known to the celebrants. Perhaps it’s a bit of a downer to end the album on but it allows you to drift peacefully away. Airneán is a surprising record, sometimes sad, sometimes happy; sometimes beautiful sometimes full of life and joy.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

‘The Strangest Thing’ – official video:

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